There are measurable benefits for companies that carefully incorporate new hires into the organization. A good onboarding program improves long-term retention, productivity, profitability and employee engagement.
Studies show that a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82%! Onboarding also helps new employees get to work faster. A basic onboarding program improves new hire productivity by 50%, while a strong one raises it by over 70%.
Additionally, onboarding ensures employees are immediately immersed within their teams and workplaces, further boosting their productivity, job satisfaction and retention.
With benefits like these, onboarding should be a core priority, especially when hiring new remote employees. However, studies show companies consistently drop the ball here. In fact, only 12% of employees say their company did a good job at onboarding them. And only 29% say they feel fully prepared and supported to excel in their new role after experiencing corporate onboarding.
Thankfully, with a few best practices, you can set your remote employees up for success. In this article, we'll share our top tips for creating a successful virtual onboarding experience, so you can set your remote employees up to thrive.
7 tips for a successful virtual onboarding experience
If you want to raise the bar in your organization, the following seven tips are an excellent place to start.
1. Create a detailed plan and timeline
Successful remote onboarding is structured, organized and progressive (aka occurs in stages). A best-in-class program starts well before new workers enter the company and continues long after all the paperwork is signed.
That's why having a detailed outline, broken down into phases, can be incredibly beneficial. Here's what that might look like:
- Before Day One – Get the bulk of HR and legal-related onboarding done now. Focus on paperwork, sending over equipment and providing system access. Outline basic protocols for joining meetings and in-meeting behavior guidelines. Share a schedule for day one.
- Day One – Show new employees how basic things are done, like clocking in or joining a team project. Announce and introduce them to other employees. Start looping them into conversations and events. Talk to them about their job duties and expectations. Show them how the written description translates into real life.
- Day Two – Revisit their first week's schedule and review the first day. See what needs more explaining. Spend more time integrating them into the typical workflows and processes. Be available for their questions.
- Week One – Share informational resources relevant to their work. Go over corporate values, goals and mission. Keep checking in on them and assign one team member to be their support or integration partner.
- First Months – Help new employees further integrate into the company culture and focus on their performance. Review their workloads, ask them how it's going and find growth opportunities. Outline performance goals and do routine feedback.
Workers feel more confident at their new companies when the onboarding process provides a sense of competence. A well-structured virtual onboarding experience will create that.
2. Make plans for your new hires to socialize
Remote workers are healthier, happier and more productive when they're socially connected, engaged and supported. So, schedule some time for new hires to connect and socialize with the rest of their team.
Keep things light and low-pressure. The goal is to jumpstart their social connections, not throw them into awkward or uncomfortable interactions. For example, you can pair them up with a buddy, add them to the company Slack channels or host an introductory meeting with their team.
Don't let this be a one-and-done event. Instead, add regular socialization events to the remote team's schedule to help new and current workers stay connected.
3. Prepare some tasks from the jump
Those first few days on the job can be uncomfortable, awkward and uncertain. New hires aren't always sure what's happening and can spend a lot of time waiting for directions. The last thing you want is for your new hire to be sitting at home, alone, unsure of how to move forward or who to reach out to about it.
To help them get through those first couple of days, take time to detail specific tasks for them during their first few hours, days and weeks at work. This can be as simple as handing over a checklist with a few to-do items. Or you can schedule their entire first week(s) on the job – including initial tasks and various milestones for them to hit.
Make sure these are tasks that are short, manageable and easily accomplished. You want to give new remote employees jobs they can quickly tick off a list to gain some early wins. This will help integrate them into the corporate rhythm and alleviate some first-day anxiety while generating early feelings of productivity, success and confidence on the job.
4. Consider an onboarding survival kit
Onboarding survival kits are the perfect way to give new remote employees a warm and memorable welcome. Kits are friendly packages with fun, memorable and helpful goodies, treats and swag.
Some top items include anything to make the remote working life more comfortable, healthy and productive. Pack the kit full of WFH gear like fitness equipment, yoga mats, stress balls, coasters, snacks and mugs.
Kit styles vary. It can be minimalistic or massive, humorous or serious, corporate-focused or filled with downtime swag. But, it should always reflect the company's ethos and culture.
5. Set clear expectations
Want to create an exceptional virtual onboarding process? Let new remote employees know exactly what you expect of them and how they can succeed.
According to Gallup, workers who are confident in their abilities to excel in their new role are 1.8 times more likely to think their onboarding process was exceptional. And those who feel they have a clear plan for their professional development are 3.5 times more likely to feel things were exceptional.
New hires need to know corporate expectations regarding their role, professional relationships, behavior and more. Take time to go over their core job expectations and tasks. Explain how remote teams are to work together, behavioral and business norms and how things are done. Be sure to share your remote work policy with them.
Ultimately, you want to let new hires know their role in the organization's mission, what values you expect them to uphold, and how they work towards corporate goals.
6. Give your new hires everything they need to thrive
The onboarding process should always include giving employees the tools and information they need to succeed. That might include:
- Hardware (like Managed Devices, headphones, etc.)
- Account information (like login details for email, Slack channels, etc.)
- Access to tools the company uses
- Digital paperwork
- Any other information
Include info and tips to make it easier for them to adjust to the new workplace. For example, a few cheat sheets with insider hacks, quick tips and a list of team member names might be helpful.
Giving employees the tools they need is a fundamental part of virtual onboarding. However, it must be done correctly. A chaotic and disorganized process will send a poor first impression. New employees shouldn't have to repeatedly ask for resources or wonder when they'll get access to a system. Instead, make this as smooth and streamlined as possible.
A bonus tip here is to give them their tools earlier in the remote onboarding process, so new hires have enough time to become familiar with their resources before they're expected to produce outcomes.
7. Check in regularly and ask for feedback
Make remote onboarding a high-touch process with lots of personal check-ins. Ask new hires how things are going, what they need help with and how they fit in. Check-in on a graduated schedule. On the first few days, do frequent check-ins throughout the day. Then move to daily, twice weekly, weekly, etc.
A virtual onboarding process can extend for as long as it takes new employees to become accustomed to and set into their jobs. It can take at least 12 months for a new hire to reach their full performance potential. That varies by industry, role and other factors, but 12 to 18 months is about average.
Simplify the onboarding process with Outstaffer.com
A robust virtual onboarding process ensures your remote employees have everything they need to succeed. Conversely, a subpar virtual onboarding process can leave your virtual team members feeling alone and unsure of what to do next.
At Outstaffer, we make it easy to hire, onboard and manage remote employees from around the world. Our exceptional onboarding experience gets your international employees onboarded quickly and seamlessly with a dedicated onboarding specialist, welcome kits and winning introductions.
Ready to hire the best global talent and give them an extraordinary onboarding experience? Get started with Outstaffer now.